HOTLINE - week of May 23, 2011

CWS raises appeal as deadly storms strike U.S.; Security and safety for humanitarian aid workers..

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Relief aid in Jacmel, a Haitian town ravaged by the earthquake in January 2010. Scenes like this can erupt into violence, especially in communities where assistance has been delayed.
Photo: Paul Jeffrey/ ACT Alliance

CWS raises appeal as deadly storms strike U.S.

Updated May 24, 2011: This spring has brought several destructive storms to the United States. The deadliest of 68 tornadoes that hit seven states last weekend was one that cut a mile-wide path through Joplin, Mo., killing at least 116 people and destroying or damaging 2,000 buildings, including Joplin’s main hospital. Also hit was Minneapolis, where one person was killed and a low-income community was damaged.

In response, CWS has expanded its appeal from $80,000 to $280,000 to help provide emergency assistance and on-site recovery tools and training for the growing number of communities affected by tornadoes and flooding. CWS Emergency Response Specialists are working with these communities and with FEMA, voluntary agencies and faith-based organizations to determine the areas of greatest need. Thousands of CWS Blankets, Kits and Emergency Cleanup Buckets have already been distributed to people in need.

Contributions for CWS response efforts may be made online, sent to your denomination, or sent to Church World Service. (Please specify Appeal #627-P.)

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Security and safety for humanitarian aid workers

Life in the humanitarian world has always entailed risks. Though the work done by non-governmental aid organizations is more vital than ever, it can also be challenging and hazardous.  

Church World Service is joining with other members of ACT Alliance this week to focus on the need for security, vigilance and safety in all areas of humanitarian work. CWS/ACT Security Awareness Week aims to promote good security management “to enable our staff and partners to work safely and securely in both stable and unstable environments," said CWS Executive Director and CEO John McCullough.

Protecting those who save lives

In response to increased security risks globally, CWS has initiated a Regional Risk Management Project, designed to strengthen the skills and expertise of local and international humanitarian workers in their home countries and abroad. These goals are being achieved through a series of workshops featuring expert speakers.

The first regional workshop, "Developing Risk Management Awareness," was held last September in Bangkok. CWS also distributed security information to humanitarian organizations via an e-alert service and a security manual translated into local languages across Southern Asia.

In March 2011, the offices of Church World Service Asia/ Pacific, Indonesia and Pakistan/Afghanistan conducted a series of security training workshops in Jakarta, Indonesia. Participating aid workers from regional non-governmental organizations learned about personal security of field level staff, and NGO leaders learned how to integrate best security practices into their organizational policies and programs.

A tense time for Zahid Ali

When Zahid Ali’s organization, CWS partner Participatory Village Development Program, was distributing relief food to flood survivors Pakistan, the school where they gathered was surrounded by armed men.  A local politician wanted to distribute the food and take credit. Ali and his staff refused.

Several weeks later, at the CWS workshop on security and risk management, Ali learned his response to the incident had been spot-on. While he and his staff were being detained, Ali made calls to other local politicians – who exerted their own influence on the man. The potential crisis was averted through diplomatic pressure, one of the strategies CWS teaches.

“We believe security initiatives should be field-focused and integrated into our programs – not considered add-ons,” says Kathrine Alexandrowiz, CWS Asia/Pacific’s head of programs.

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